Self-Direction, Conscientiousness, and Locus of Control/Identity

The self-direction of one’s life is a fundamental natural right inherent within all rational beings, it is sometimes called self-ownership, self-government, self-mastery, self-determination, and individual autonomy.  It is not something that is given to anyone, rather it is something that must be claimed through taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and outcomes, and through demonstrating the enjoyment of one’s rights. In order to claim one’s rights and enjoy them, one must also possess the ability to defend their rights from those who might wish to challenge or usurp their ability to self-direct their lives from without through the use of deceit or force, with an equalizing means to ensure justice.


“Self-directedness is a personality trait held by someone with characteristic self-determination, that is, the ability to regulate and adapt behavior to the demands of a situation in order to achieve personally chosen goals and values.

It is one of the “character” dimensions in Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Cloninger described it as “willpower”—”a metaphorical abstract concept to describe the extent to which a person identifies the imaginal self as an integrated, purposeful whole individual, rather than a disorganized set of reactive impulses.” Cloninger’s research found that low self-directedness is a major common feature of personality disorders generally.

Self-directedness is conceptually related to locus of control. That is, low self-directedness is associated with external locus of control, whereas high self-directedness is associated with internal locus of control.

In the five factor model of personality, self-directedness has a strong inverse association with neuroticism and a strong positive association with conscientiousness.”



“…is the personality trait of being careful or diligent. Conscientiousness implies a desire to do a task well, and to take obligations to others seriously. Conscientious people tend to be efficient and organized as opposed to easy-going and disorderly. They tend to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement; they display planned rather than spontaneous behavior; and they are generally dependable. Conscientiousness manifests in characteristic behaviors such as being neat, systematic, careful, thorough, and deliberate (tending to think carefully before acting).”


Here’s a video (at the 39:37 mark of the video) on the Seven Hermetic Principles where a “hidden” eighth principle is discussed that is closely related to conscientiousness, namely the principle of “care”. Care is necessary to direct, nurture, and grow one’s life, identity, family, health, projects, and goals in order to ensure they not only come to fruition in a meaningful way, but also that they are able to be sustainable and lasting.

Locus of Control/Identity:

“…is the degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces (beyond their influence), have control over the outcome of events in their lives. The concept was developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, and has since become an aspect of personality psychology. A person’s “locus” (plural “loci”, Latin for “place” or “location”) is conceptualized as internal (a belief that one can control one’s own life) or external (a belief that life is controlled by outside factors which the person cannot influence, or that chance or fate controls their lives).

Individuals with a strong internal locus of control believe events in their life are primarily a result of their own actions: for example, when receiving exam results, people with an internal locus of control tend to praise or blame themselves and their abilities. People with a strong external locus of control tend to praise or blame external factors such as the teacher or the difficulty of the exam.”


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